Sunday, September 23, 2012

Lucy's quilt

This is Lucy (short for Lucifer). He is our "extra" kitty as he has taken up residence at our house as well as with our next door neighbors. He has two mommies and two daddies and several four-legged, furry siblings. He occasionally supervises my work in my studio (as shown here).
Lucy likes the quilting fabrics.
My neighbor, Betty, says that when Lucy sleeps on the bedspread, he leaves a "kitty shadow" in the spot he sleeps. So, rather than Betty having to wash the entire bedspread, I decided Lucy needed a quilt to sleep on that could more easily be washed. Here it is.
Lucy's quilt is 35" x 38.25".
The center panel ("I'm lucky to be the cat because:") came from a custom fabric that was printed for Kat Lover's Pur-fect, Quilting. The black and multi-colored cat fabric also came from this quilt shop.
"I'm lucky to be the cat because:" fabric panel from
Kat Lover's Pur-fect Quilting quilt shop.
The front of the quilt is cotton and the back is flannel. It's a multi-season piece. I also love the striped binding.
Lucy's quilt has a cotton front and a flannel back.
 Here is a closeup of the free-motion quilting... spirals, feathers and loops.
Freeform, free-motion quilting.
Lucy was snoozing at the time I brought his quilt to my neighbor. He hardly budged as Betty laid his new quilt over him.
Lucy and his new quilt. 
He also decided to sleep on top of it. It was a big success.
What a cat!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cuddle Quilts: relaxing and rewarding

Cuddle quilt using blocks from a fabric book panel.
Sometimes it's just nice to make a quilt for someone you don't even know. Pull out several brightly colored fabric scraps or a large print, use a basic block pattern, frame it with a coordinating border and there you have it!

My quilt guild, the Choo Choo Quilters, supports a local children's organization by making and donating "Cuddle Quilts" (lap size and child size quilts) every year. At the September guild meeting, members submitted 15 more completed quilts toward the cause. The three shown here were my contribution.

When I need to do some "therapy" quilting (no pressure, doesn't-have-to-be-perfect, for-the-pure-enjoyment-of-the-process kind of quilting) these are my go-to projects.

I had two quilt tops that were completed at my guild's annual Cuddle Quilt workshop last month, and a top that had been basted for some time and was waiting in the "to-be-quilted queue." This was a perfect framework for an ad-lib free-motion quilting exercise.
Left: A large repeat stripe serves as the center panel.
Right: A scrappy Rail Fence quilt.
I don't mark these quilt tops. I take the quilt sandwiches (two were even spray basted), drop the feed dogs and just go for it—intuitively working out the stitching patterns as I make my way around the top. The bindings are attached by machine and they're done.

As I tell my quilting students, Cuddle Quilts (charity quilts) provide a great opportunity to practice free-motion quilting. The fun, busy fabric prints will hide any wobbles or shaky stops and starts, and the recipients will love them all the same. Making these small quilts is relaxing and rewarding and more importantly, they will bring a smile and comfort to someone else.

Monday, September 10, 2012

My Fabric Rep Trek: Mountain Creek Quilt Shop

Hand-dyed wools.
Don't you just want to submerge your fingers between these luscious little bundles of color? You'll find these hand-dyed wools, hand-dyed threads, perle cottons, and stitching embellishments among the fabrics and quilting notions at Mountain Creek Quilt Shop in Greenback, Tennessee.

Professional long-arm quilter, Terri Ayers, opened Mountain Creek Quilt Shop almost 3 years ago and caters to traditional and modern quilters, and hand stitchers and embroiderers with her selection of fabrics, threads, quilting notions and unique stitching accoutrements.

Terri offers a wide selection of neutrals and blenders in warm and cool hues that can be used for backgrounds for hand stitching projects or to coordinate with focal prints such as large and medium scale florals, whimsical prints, and traditional fabrics such as Civil War and other reproductions.
Neutrals and blenders in reds, browns and golds are accompanied by
large floral prints and whimsical dots and stripes.
The high ceilings of the shop provide expansive wall space on which quilts are hung. The quilts add to the charming and welcoming ambiance of the shop and serve as examples of what can be done with the various fabrics, notions and embellishments available at Mountain Creek Quilt Shop.
A mix of prints, stripes, dots and blender fabrics.
You can also see Terri's magnificent machine quilting on many of the samples hanging throughout the shop.
Examples of machine quilting.
A striking black and white quilt with hand embroidered quilt blocks hangs
beside a quilt that boasts a neutral pallet and scattered with small colored center squares.
As you enter the front room of the store, there is a unique collection of embroidery floss, perle cotton, hand-dyed threads by Weeks Dye Works, fabric covered buttons and embellishments.
Embroider floss, Sea Grass and patterns for wool projects.
Hand dyed threads from Weeks Dye Works.
Beautiful hand dyed wools, that Terri dyes herself, are available in a wide, rich color spectrum. The patterns, books, kits and samples that are also on display beckon you to give hand needlework a try! The shop also has on-going classes that offer a variety of projects for beginners and experienced needleworkers and quilters alike.
Hand dyed wools, penny rugs, kits and jars full of perle cotton embroidery threads.
A selection of  books for quilting and needlework projects.
Wool penny rugs, hand embroidered primitives, and various wool stitcheries hang throughout the shop and are tucked into cubbies and cupboards to provide a wealth of ideas and inspriation.
A wooden cupboard displays wool projects, kits and drawers of embroidery threads.
I decided to experiment with a couple packages of Sea Grass, a flat embroidery floss. I also chose a package of covered buttons to embellilsh this piece of vibrant turquoise hand dyed wool. (Trust me when I say the photo here does not do the color of this wool justice!)
I'm going to try hand embroidery with Sea Grass thread on hand-dyed wool.
A full range of quilting supplies, thread, batting and stabilizers rounds out the offerings.
Quilting notions, thread and batting.
Mountain Creek Quilt Shop, Greenback, Tennessee.

So, does Greenback sound familiar to you? This town and several of the local businesses, along with Terri and her quilt shop, were featured in an H&R Block commercial in 2010. See it here on YouTube and watch Terri's expression when she opens the tax refund envelope. It's priceless!

Plan a visit to the Mountain Creek Quilt Shop in east Tennessee and you will be just as pleased with the quilting and needlework possibilities you'll find inside. Tell Terri you saw her shop on the YouTube video and here at FiberAntics.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Fabric Rep Trek: The Sewing Shop

The Sewing Shop in Dayton, Tennessee.
For quilters and sewers in the Chattanooga area, you may remember Swafford's fabric store in Dayton (northeast of Chattanooga). It now has a new owner and has been renamed, The Sewing Shop.

Regina, the store's new owner, is a long time friend of the previous owner's family, and when fate intervened, she bought the store and became the new owner. The Sewing Shop is located in historic downtown Dayton, Tennessee, a block away from the Rhea County courthouse. This courthouse was the scene of the famous 1925 Scopes Evolution Trial or "The Monkey Trials."

The Sewing Shop has fabrics for sewers and quilters alike. For garments, there are wools, suitings, broadcloth, blends, linings, and fabrics for dressmaking and formalwear.
Bolts of wools, wool blends, linings, satins and fabric for garment sewing.
For the quilters, there is a large selection of fun novelties, plaids, stripes, small prints and florals and even pre-printed yardage with quilt block patterns. For those who have taken my Introduction to Free-Motion Quilting class, you know that practice is one of the keys to getting proficient at machine quilting. May I suggest investing in a few yards of pre-printed (cheater) cloth? Take some home, drop the feed dogs, and have a go at your free-motion quilting.
Pre-printed quilt block fabrics.
Cotton novelty and animal prints.
Above the shelves of fabrics, there is a large variety of pre-printed panels for baby, toddler and children's quilts and home dec projects. A good selection of fleece is available as well.
Panels and novelty prints.
Panels and fleece fabrics.
Ribbons, trims, zippers, and other sewing notions are in good supply as well as needlework kits with a vintage flare. When was the last time you relaxed with some hand embroidery? Maybe some embroidered pillowcases, a tablecloth or a few quilt blocks might interest you? There are kits with a variety of pre-printed designs on the shelves. These handwork projects are portable and can travel with you anywhere.
Ribbons and trims are displayed beside kits for hand embroidered linens.
Seam bindins, zippers and other sewing notions.
For quilters following the "modern quilt" trend, the selection of cotton solids is amazing! There are two rows of bolts in a gradation of tones that span the rainbow, including grays and neutrals. Regina says the solids are quite popular and she is diligent with keeping a full stock.
Solids in an extensive range of colors, values and tones.
I couldn't get out the door without picking up a few to beef up my collection. So, be careful! The solids will call out to you.
I added these solids to my stash.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

ATCs: Aphorisms

"The weeds will win in the end." —Walt Whitman
As far back as the days of Hippocrates [c. 460 - 370 BC] great thinkers, philosophers and poets alike have imparted practical and insightful views of life that stop us in our thoughts, and often bring a smile to our faces. "Aphorisms," concise and memorable statements containing a subjective truth, was the theme of the August FiberAntics ATC swap

As a typographer and long time typeface aficionado, I love these kinds of ATC themes because words and letters—mechanically or calligraphically produced—can be a focal point in the artwork. It gives me an opportunity to peruse various typefaces, experiment with typographic options, and choose something appropriate for the text or message. (Ohhh, I did my thesis in typography and the affects of typefaces on messages... many moons ago... but I digress...)

Here are the ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) for this month. I hope you enjoy the creatively and typographically illustrated bits of pithy wisdom from these ATC artists.
"The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of." —Blaise Pascal
"So go for the jump and chase all your dreams." —Mark van Essen
"You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep
because reality is finally better than your dreams." —Dr. Seuss
"When in Memphis, do as the Memphians do... eat BBQ." 
"I'd like to live as a poor man with lots of money." —Pablo Picasso
"Thought forms in the soul the same way clouds form in the air." Joseph Joubert
"Our greatest misfortunes come to us from ourselves." —Jean-Jaques Rousseau
"The only real currency we have is time."
"Nature does nothing without purpose or uselessly." —Aristotle
"Time lost is never found again."
"Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads." —Henry David Thoreau
"The only way to be a friend is to be one." —Ralph Waldo Emerson
"I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells." —Dr. Seuss

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Knitting the sky—August skies

Sky Scarf through August.
Tumbling down four steps is 8 months of my 2012 Sky Scarf project. The scarf is currently 72 inches long and 12 inches wide. At this rate, it could be over 100 inches long by the end of the year!

What do you think? Should I continue as planned? Or, stop at a "reasonable" or "wearable" length? What would that be? You think one could wear a 100+ inch long scarf/wrap/stole?

I've run out of one or two of the yarns I started with and have added more. I entered into this as a stash buster project, so I'm OK with running out and adding more. It gives me a purpose when visiting a yarn shop and I keep an eye open for "sky" colored sock or lace weight yarns. In June, I picked up 3 coordinating skeins for the fringe. At this point, I'm not sure that will be enough...

With hurricane Issac hitting the gulf states recently, there was the potential for storm cloud-ridden skies, heavy rains and the need for battleship gray and charcoal mohairs, but we got minimal affects in our area. It's amazing how different the sky is at different times of day and through the seasons. You really learn to be observant over something we generally take for granted by doing a project such as this.

I may have to pop over to Lea Redmond's Conceptual Kntting blog and see what she and others have done.
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